There are three principle types of vet fees cover and it is very important to understand the difference. In this article we will briefly explain the three different types and then look at three case-studies to see how they work in practice.
This is the most limited of the three major cover types. Policies of this type will pay up to the cover limit for each condition BUT have a 12-month time limit so will only pay for 12 months after the illness is first noticed or the accident occurs.
After twelve months (or once you have reached the cover limit if this is sooner) you are likely to have to pay for any further treatment your pet requires for that condition (or any related condition) for the rest of your pet’s lifetime. An exclusion will be placed on the policy by your current insurer, and any other insurer is likely to exclude it as a pre-existing condition.
Maximum Benefit Cover
This is similar to time-limited cover but without the time limit! These policies will pay up to the cover limit for each condition without time limit providing of course you renew the policy when it is due.
Again, once you reach the cover limit you are likely to have pay for the treatment of that condition (or any related condition) for the rest of your pet’s lifetime.
This is also known as a renewing benefit, annual benefit, annual sum or reinstatement policy!
These policies have an annual cover limit (either per condition or to cover all conditions). This is reinstated each year providing you renew the policy.
If you reach the cover limit during the year then you will have to pay for treatment for the remainder of the year but will then be able to start claiming again once you have renewed the policy.
So let us see how this works in practice by looking at a couple of case studies.
Case Study 1: Thomas
Thomas is a five-year-old cat who was badly injured when he fell from a roof! He needed surgery which cost £2,500 and then required further surgery for the same injury 15 months later which cost £1,500.
£3,000 Time-Limited Cover: Would pay for the initial operation but as there is a 12 month time-limit the policy would not pay for the surgery required the following year.
£3,000 Maximum Benefit Cover: Would pay for the initial operation but would only pay £500 towards the subsequent surgery as the maximum benefit would be reached. The owner would be left to pay £1,000.
£3,000 Lifetime Cover: Would pay for both operations as the £3,000 cover limit would be re-instated at the beginning of year 2.
Case Study 2: Flora
Flora is a six-year old border collie who in the current policy year has had cruciate injury which required surgery (total treatment cost £2,900) and now has been diagnosed with a separate chronic long-term condition which will require medication costing £500 this year and £500 in each subsequent year.
£3,000 Time-Limited Cover (Per Condition): Will pay for the cruciate injury treatment this year. Will also pay for the drugs for 12 months but after this time the Flora’s owner will have to pay for the medication for the rest of her life.
£3,000 Maximum Benefit Cover (Per Condition): Will pay for the cruciate ligament injury this year and will pay for the medication for six years (as they are separate conditions) but after this time Flora’s owner will have to pay for the medication for the rest of her life.
£3,000 Lifetime Cover (All Conditions): Most lifetime cover has a cover limit for all conditions. In this case it would therefore pay for the cruciate injury treatment plus £100 for medication. The owner will have to pay the remaining £400 for medication in this first year. But the policy will pay for future medication as the limit will be reinstated each year.
As you can see from above cover limits are important. And in practice maximum benefit cover limits and lifetime cover limits tend to be higher than those for time-limited policies.